TRENT Lesson #19
By whom, and when, the office of preaching is to be discharged: the Parish Church to be frequented in order to hear the word of God. No one shall preach in opposition to the will of the Bishop.
The holy Synod, desirous that the office of preaching, which peculiarly belongs to bishops, may be exercised as frequently as possible, for the welfare of the faithful, and accommodating more aptly to the use of the present times, the canons elsewhere set forth on this subject, under Paul III., of happy memory, ordains, that the bishops shall themselves in person, each in his own church, announce the sacred Scriptures and the devine law, or if lawfully hindered, it shall be done by those whom they shall appoint to the office of preaching; and in the other churches by the parish priests, or, if they be hindered, by others to be deputed by the bishop, whether it be in the city, or in any other part whatsoever of the diocese wherein they shall judge such preaching expedient, at the charge of those who are bound, or who are accustomed, to defray it, and this at least on all Lord’s Days and solemn festivals; but, during the season of the fasts, of Lent and of the Advent of the Lord, daily, or at least on three days in the week, if the said bishop shall deem it needful; and, at other times, as often as they shall judge that it can be opportunely done. And the bishop shall diligently admonish the people, that each one is bound to be present at his own parish church, where it can be conveniently done, to hear the word of God. But no one, whether Secular or Regular, shall presume to preach, even in churches of his own order, in opposition to the will of the bishop.
The said bishops shall also take care, that, at least on the Lord’s Days and other festivals, the children in every parish be carefully taught the rudiments of the faith, and obedience towards God and their parents, by those whose duty it is, and who shall be constrained thereunto by their bishops, if need be, even by ecclesiastical censures; any privileges and customs notwithstanding. In other respects, those things decreed, under the said Paul III., concerning the office of preaching, shall have their full force.
the said court of conscience, but to them only, and not to their vicars.
The virtue of the Sacraments shall, before being administered to the people, be explained by Bishops and Parish Priests; during the solemnization of mass, the sacred oracles shall be explained.
In order that the faithful people may approach to the reception of the sacraments with greater reverence and devotion of mind, the holy Synod enjoins on all bishops, that, not only when they are themselves about to administer them to the people, they shall first explain, in a manner suited to the capacity of those who receive them, the efficacy and use of those sacraments, but shall endeavour that the same be done piously and prudently by every parish priest; and this even in the vernacular tongue, if need be, and it can be conveniently done; and in accordance with the form which will be prescribed for each of the sacraments, by the holy Synod, in a catechism which the bishops shall take care to have faithfully translated into the vulgar tongue, and to have expounded to the people by all parish priests; as also that, during the solemnization of mass, or the celebration of the divine offices, they explain, in the said vulgar tongue, on all festivals, or solemnities, the sacred oracles, and the maxims of salvation; and that, setting aside all unprofitable questions, they endeavour to impress them on the hearts of all, and to instruct them in the law of the Lord.
On public sinners, a public penance shall be imposed, unless the Bishop shall determine otherwise: a Penitentiary to be instituted in Cathedral Churches.
The apostle admonishes that those who sin publicly are to be reproved openly.
When, therefore, any one has, publicly and in the sight of many, committed a crime, whereby there is no doubt that others have been offended and scandalized; there must needs be publicly imposed upon him a penance suitable to the measure of his guilt; that so those whom he has allured to evil manners by his example, he may bring back to an upright life by the testimony of his amendment. The bishop, however, may, when he judges it more expedient, commute this kind of public penance into one that is secret. Likewise, in all cathedral churches, where it can be conveniently done, the bishop shall appoint a penitentiary, annexing thereto the prebend that shall next become vacant, which penitentiary shall be a master, or doctor, or licentiate in theology, or in canon law, and forty years of age, or otherwise one who shall be found more suitable considering the character of the place; and, whilst hearing confessions in the church, he shall be meanwhile reputed as present in choir.
Where visitation and correction of morals are concerned, no suspension of decrees is allowed.
Bishops, that they may be the better able to keep the people whom they rule in duty and obedience, shall, in all those things which regard visitation and correction of manners, have the right and power, even as delegates of the Apostolic See, of ordaining, regulating, correcting, and executing, in accordance with the enactments of the canons, those things which, in their prudence, shall seem to them necessary for the amendment of their subjects, and for the good of their respective dioceses. Nor herein, when visitation and correction of manners are concerned, shall any exemption, or any inhibition, or appeal, or complaint, even though interposed to the Apostolic See, in any way hinder, or suspend the execution of those things which shall have been by them enjoined, decreed, or adjudged.
SESSION THE TWENTY-FIFTH,
Begun on the third, and terminated on the fourth, day of December, MDLXIII., being the ninth and last under the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV.
DECREE CONCERNING PURGATORY.
Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught, in sacred councils, and very recently in this oecumenical Synod, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar; the holy Synod enjoins on bishops that they diligently endeavour that the sound doctrine concerning Purgatory, transmitted by the holy Fathers and sacred councils, be believed, maintained, taught, and every where proclaimed by the faithful of Christ.
But let the more difficult and subtle questions, and which tend not to edification, and from which for the most part there is no increase of piety, be excluded from popular discourses before the uneducated multitude. In like manner, such things as are uncertain, or which labour under an appearance of error, let them not allow to be made public and treated of. While those things which tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or which savour of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks of the faithful.
But let the bishops take care, that the suffrages of the faithful who are living, to wit the sacrifices of masses, prayers, alms, and other works of piety, which have been wont to be performed by the faithful for the other faithful departed, be piously and devoutly performed, in accordance with the institutes of the church; and that whatsoever is due on their behalf, from the endowments of testators, or in other way, be discharged, not in a perfunctory manner, but diligently and accurately, by the priests and ministers of the church, and others who are bound to render this (service).
ON THE INVOCATION, VENERATION, AND RELICS, OF SAlNTS, AND ON SACRED IMAGES.
The holy Synod enjoins on all bishops, and others who sustain the office and charge of teaching, that, agreeably to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and agreeably to the consent of the holy Fathers, and to the decrees of sacred Councils, they especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the intercession and invocation of saints; the honour (paid) to relics; and the legitimate use of images: teaching them, that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, (and) help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour; but that they think impiously, who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invocated; or who assert either that they do not pray for men; or, that the invocation of them to pray for each of us even in particular, is idolatry; or, that it is repugnant to the word of God; and is opposed to the honour of the one mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus; or, that it is foolish to supplicate, vocally, or mentally, those who reign in heaven.
Also, that the holy bodies of holy martyrs, and of others now living with Christ,-which bodies were the living members of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which are by Him to be raised unto eternal life, and to be glorified,–are to be venerated by the faithful; through which (bodies) many benefits are bestowed by God on men; so that they who affirm that veneration and honour are not due to the relics of saints; or, that these, and other sacred monuments, are uselessly honoured by the faithful; and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid; are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and now also condemns them.
Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and retained particularly in temples, and that due honour and veneration are to be given them
; not that any divinity, or virtue, is believed to be in them, on account of which they are to be worshipped; or that anything is to be asked of them; or, that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old done by the Gentiles who placed their hope in idols; but because the honour which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent; in such wise that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover the head, and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ; and we venerate the saints, whose similitude they bear: as, by the decrees of Councils, and especially of the second Synod of Nicaea, has been defined against the opponents of images.
And the bishops shall carefully teach this,-that, by means of the histories of the mysteries of our Redemption, portrayed by paintings or other representations, the people is instructed, and confirmed in (the habit of) remembering, and continually revolving in mind the articles of faith; as also that great profit is derived from all sacred images, not only because the people are thereby admonished of the benefits and gifts bestowed upon them by Christ, but also because the miracles which God has performed by means of the saints, and their salutary examples, are set before the eyes of the faithful; that so they may give God thanks for those things; may order their own lives and manners in imitation of the saints; and may be excited to adore and love God, and to cultivate piety.
But if any one shall teach, or entertain sentiments, contrary to these decrees; let him be anathema.
And if any abuses have crept in amongst these holy and salutary observances, the holy Synod ardently desires that they be utterly abolished; in such wise that no images, (suggestive) of false doctrine, and furnishing occasion of dangerous error to the uneducated, be set up. And if at times, when expedient for the unlettered people; it happen that the facts and narratives of sacred Scripture are portrayed and represented; the people shall be taught, that not thereby is the Divinity represented, as though it could be seen by the eyes of the body, or be portrayed by colours or figures.
Moreover, in the invocation of saints, the veneration of relics, and the sacred use of images, every superstition shall be removed, all filthy lucre be abolished; finally, all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust; nor the celebration of the saints, and the visitation of relics be by any perverted into revellings and drunkenness; as if festivals are celebrated to the honour of the saints by luxury and wantonness.
In fine, let so great care and diligence be used herein by bishops, as that there be nothing seen that is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly arranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, seeing that holiness becometh the house of God.
And that these things may be the more faithfully observed, the holy Synod ordains, that no one be allowed to place, or cause to be placed, any unusual image, in any place, or church, howsoever exempted, except that image have been approved of by the bishop: also, that no new miracles are to be acknowledged, or new relics recognised, unless the said bishop has taken cognizance and approved thereof; who, as soon as he has obtained some certain information in regard to these matters, shall, after having taken the advice of theologians, and of other pious men, act therein as he shall judge to be consonant with truth and piety. But if any doubtful, or difficult abuse has to be extirpated; or, in fine, if any more grave question shall arise touching these matters, the bishop, before deciding the controversy, shall await the sentence of the metropolitan and of the bishops of the province, in a provincial Council; yet so, that nothing new, or that previously has not been usual in the Church, shall be resolved on, without having first consulted the most holy Roman Pontiff.
The sword of excommunication is not to be rashly used: when an execution can be made on property or person, censures are to be abstained from: the civil magistrates shall not interfere herein.
Although the sword of excommunication is the very sinews of ecclesiastical discipline, and very salutary for keeping the people in their duty, yet it is to be used with sobriety and great circumspection; seeing that experience teaches, that if it be rashly or for slight causes wielded, it is more despised than feared, and produces ruin rather than safety. Wherefore, those excommunications, which, after certain admonitions, are wont to be issued with the view as it is termed, of causing a revelation, or on account of things that have been lost or stolen, shall be issued by no one whomsoever, but the bishop; and not then, otherwise than on account of some circumstance of no common kind which moves the mind of the bishop thereunto, after the cause has been by him diligently and very maturely weighed ; nor shall he be induced to grant the said excommunications by the
Tithes to be paid in full: those withholding, or hindering, the payment thereof are to be excommunicated: the Rectors of Poor Churches are to be piously relieved.
Those are not to be borne who, by various artifices, endeavour to withhold the tithes accruing to the churches ; nor those who rashly take possession of, and apply to their own use, the tithes which have to be paid by others; whereas the payment of tithes is due to God; and they who refuse to pay them, or hinder those who give them, usurp the property of another. Wherefore, the holy Synod enjoins on all, of whatsoever rank and condition they be, to whom it belongs to pay tithes, that they henceforth pay in full the tithes, to which they are bound in law, to the cathedral church, or to whatsoever other churches, or persons, they are lawfully due. And they who either withhold them, or hinder them (from being paid), shall be excommunicated; nor be absolved from this crime, until after full restitution has been made. It further exhorts all and each, that, of their Christian charity, and the duty which they owe to their own pastors, they grudge not, out of the good things that are given them by God, to assist bountifully those bishops and parish priests who preside over the poorer churches; to the praise of God, and to maintain the dignity of their own pastors who watch for them.
The fourth of Funeral (dues) shall be paid to the Cathedral or Parish Churches.
The holy Synod ordains, that in whatsoever places, forty years ago, a fourth, as it is called, of funerals, was accustomed to be paid to the cathedral, or parish, church, but has subsequently, by virtue of whatsoever privilege, been granted to other monasteries, hospitals, or to any other kind of pious places; the same shall henceforth, with all its rights, and in the same proportion as was formerly usual, be paid to the cathedral or parish church; all grants, graces, privileges, even those called mare magnum, or any others whatsoever, to the contrary notwithstanding.
In all things the authority of the Aposto1ic See shall remain untouched.
Lastly, the holy Synod declares, that all and singular the things which, under whatsoever clauses and words, have been ordained in this sacred Council, in the matter of reformation of morals, and ecclesiastical discipline, as well under the Sovereign Pontiffs, Paul III., and Julius III., of happy memory, as under the most blessed Pius IV., have been so decreed, as that the authority of the Apostolic See both is, and is understood to be, untouched thereby
DECREE CONCERNING INDULGENCES.
Whereas the power of conferring Indulgences was granted by Christ to the Church; and she has, even in the most ancient times, used the said power, delivered unto her of God; the sacred holy Synod teaches, and enjoins, that the use of Indulgences, for the Christian people most salutary, and approved of by the authority of sacred Councils, is to be retained in the Church; and It condemns with anathema those who either assert, that they are useless; or who deny that there is in the Church the power of granting them
In granting them, however, It desires that, in accordance with the ancient and approved custom in the Church, moderation be observed; lest, by excessive facility, ecclesastical discipline be enervated. And being desirous that the abuses which have crept therein, and by occasion of which this honourable name of Indulgences is blasphemed by heretics, be amended and corrected, It ordains generally by this decree, that all evil gains for the obtaining thereof,–whence a most prolific cause of abuses amongst the Christian people has been derived,–be wholly abolished. But as regards the other abuses which have proceeded from superstition, ignorance, irreverence, or from what soever other source, since, by reason of the manifold corruptions in the places and provinces where the said abuses are committed, they cannot conveniently be specially prohibited; It commands all bishops, diligently to collect, each in his own church, all abuses of this nature, and to report them in the first provincial Synod; that, after having been reviewed by the opinions of the other bishops also, they may forthwith be referred to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, by whose authority and prudence that which may be expedient for the universal Church will be ordained; that this the gift of holy Indulgences may be dispensed to all the faithful, piously, holily, and incorruptly.
ON CHOICE OF MEATS; ON FASTS, AND FESTIVAL DAYS.
The holy Synod furthermore exhorts, and, by the most holy advent of our Lord and Saviour, conjures all pastors, that, like good soldiers, they sedulously recommend to all the faithful all those things which the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, has ordained, as also those things which, as well in this Council, as in the other oecumenical Councils, have been ordained, and to use all diligence that they be observant of all thereof, and especially of those which tend to mortify the flesh, such as the choice of meats, and fasts ; as also those which serve to promote piety, such as the devout and religious celebration of festival days; often admonishing the people to obey those set over them (Heb. xiii. 17), whom they who hear, shall hear God as a rewarder, whereas they who contemn them, shall feel God himself as an avenger.
ON THE INDEX OF BOOKS; ON THE CATECHISM, BREVIARY, AND MISSAL
The sacred and holy Synod, in the second Session celebrated under our most holy lord, Pius IV., commissioned certain chosen Fathers to consider what ought to be done touching various censures, and books either suspected or pernicious, and to report thereon to the said holy Synod; hearing now that the finishing hand has been put to that labour by those Fathers, which, however, by reason of the variety and multitude of books cannot be distinctly and conveniently judged of by the holy Synod; It enjoins that whatsoever has been by them done shall be laid before the most holy Roman Pontiff, that it may be by his judgment and authority terminated and made public. And it commands that the same be done in regard of the Catechism, by the Fathers to whom that work was consigned, and as regards the missal and breviary.
touching the sacraments and other matters, which seemed to be necessary for confuting heresies, removing abuses, and amending morals, were by the sacred and holy Synod with the most perfect liberty and diligence, treated of, and accurately and most deliberately defined, explained, and ordained, which being completed, the Council was brought to a close with so great unanimity on the part of all who assisted thereat, that it was plain that such agreement was the Lord’s doing, and it was very wonderful in our eyes, and those of all. For which so singular a bounty, We at once appointed solemn processions in this good city, which were assisted at with great piety by the clergy and people; and We made it our care that the thanksgivings so justly due should be paid to the divine majesty; forasmuch as the issue of that Council has brought with it a great and well nigh assured hope that greater fruits will day by day be derived unto the Church from the decrees and constitutions thereof.
brethren the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, and, above all, having invoked the assistance of the Holy Spirit; after that we had ascertained that all those decrees were Catholic, and useful and salutary to the Christian people, We, to the praise of Almighty God, with the advice and assent of our brethren aforesaid, have this day, in our secret consistory, confirmed by Apostolic authority all and singular those decrees, and have ordained that the same be received and observed by all the faithful of Christ; as also, for the clearer information of all men, We do, by the tenour of this letter, confirm them, and ordain that they be received and observed.
This has been greatly edited to remove topics not relevant to our Catholic Faith Formation. Next week we begin a New Series.
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